MSNBC has long served as an also-ran to Fox News and CNN.
Not anymore. At least, not for now.
MSNBC won the ratings battle for cable news channels last week the first time that’s ever happened. MSNBC bested its competitors in both overall viewers and the highly coveted demo of adults 24 to 54 years of age, according to TV reporter Joe Adalian.
And not just that. Fox News came in third in that demographic for the first time in nearly two decades.
From May 15-19, MSNBC attracted 2.44 million people during primetime hours (Fox News had 2.41 million and CNN had 1.65 million). In the crucial demographic, MSNBC had 611,000 viewers (CNN had 589,000, Fox News only had 497,000).
MSNBC ratings have climbed steadily as the Donald Trump presidency turned from impossibility into reality and, finally, into insanity. The channel had its best quarter ever in the beginning of the year, attracting 61 percent more primetime viewers than the year before.
The win also comes as scandal plagues Fox News. The channel is now without its most popular primetime host, Bill O’Reilly, who was unceremoniously let go after a recent series of sexual harassment allegations. The channel is also without Megyn Kelly, who was hired away by NBC. Fox News is also without its founder, the late Roger Ailes, who was also ousted following sexual harassment allegations.
MSNBC has taken advantage of Fox’s struggles as well as a particularly bizarre news cycle. With the Trump administration generating what feels like a scandal a day, the channel’s left-leaning coverage has become a destination for viewers.
Fox News, meanwhile, has done its best to shield its viewers from Trump’s missteps. It has instead been giving more time to conspiracy theories.
MSNBC vs. Fox News isn’t the only example of Trump giving a boost to a TV underdog. Stephen Colbert, who had been struggling at the start of his run on The Late Show on CBS, is now riding high. He’s been consistently beating NBC and Jimmy Fallon in total viewers, though Fallon is still winning in the younger demographic that is desired by advertisers.
“Its been a great year for Late Show,” Colbert said recently at a CBS presentation for advertisers. “Thank you, Donald Trump.”